An Artist Statement To Remember

Spacesuit by Michael T. Rea

I just need to jot this down so I don’t lose it.

Mike Rea is an artist. This is his artist’s statement which brings together this wonderful relationship between fiction, underachievement, flaws, and failures. Lovely.

Standing on the shoulders of other people’s dreams could perhaps be the most pathetic of all dreams. The intent of my work is to create something short of its outcome. My goal is to create the idea of an object that remains a dream. The objects I create are based on fictions, rather than realities. I have always been interested in the ephemeral worlds established in film, or even in popular culture. Fictions or established hearsay allow for a flawed interpretation, which leads to a flawed result. The sublime is unattainable, and not an option. I further amplify this experience by only using my memory to construct my images. Failure is imminent. I find humor allows me to enjoy this experience, and I in turn build humor into the worlds established by my work. I have chosen to depict these states with unfinished wood, and other materials which convey a sense of the temporal. I find the beauty in life lies in between moments. My work offers a sense of what could be and what could never be simultaneously.

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Hint Fiction — Short Evocations of Larger Stories

Sunday November 14 14:54

I found this story on NPR that I heard this morning on this topic of “Hint Fiction” — fictional stories done in 25 words or less — to be quite intriguing. It’s less because it seems like the evolution of story telling in the era of 140 character Tweets and all that. That angle is quite boring, but it seems that this was not the motivation. These are like compelling little provocations that are small moments suggestive of a larger narrative. Take these examples:

J. Matthew Zoss
Houston, We Have a Problem
I’m sorry, but there’s not enough air in here for everyone. I’ll tell them you were a hero.

David Joseph
Polygamy I miss her more than the others.

The reasons I think I’m drawn to this idea is because it appears to be a provocative form — one that requires speculation about what surrounds the the larger context. Small moments that are incomplete but nonetheless highly suggestive. This is something that I feel is related to a genre convention of design fiction, especially in the forms that it has been done here in the studio — for better or worse, confidential work that I couldn’t share here. These are intimations of what might be — perhaps unexpected experiences that occur around the contours of a larger set of circumstances. Like — seeing a curiosity, something that is suggestive and evocative but not necessarily the *whole story. Rather than emphasizing the main “through line” we just show the things around the edges and allow the rest to be filled out by the imagination and shared histories and shared expectations of the audience.

Why do I blog this? Looking for new and interesting ways to design unexpected but relevant and provocative things. Being plain and straightforward may not always work in the art and practice of seducing people into a peculiar possible future.
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I Quote: ….

Friday October 08 13:37

Integrity, clarity and honesty.

And Warren schooled me about SciFi writers – they don’t do prediction, they do extrapolation. And he should know, he’s one of the best.

The only thoughts that have occurred to are these:

1. Warren is, of course, right. But SF Writers saying they don’t do prediction is like Leonard Nimoy saying he’s not Spock. It’s factually true, but it’s not culturally or emotionally true. It’s not true enough to overturn the fact that we take them as predicitions, however they actually generate them. And we want predictions.

2. The SF I really like (recently: Makers or The Caryatids, eternally: Neuromancer or Planetary) shows me a world I can believe in and imagine being in. They’re worlds full of recognisable people, however much they’re not like today’s people. And they’re worlds I can imagine building. Sort of. When there’s an absence of those worlds, set a few years off, I think culture gets a bit thinner.

3. I bet this somehow connects to ideas about Design Fiction, Gear Porn and Concept Products. Our fictional itch is being scratched by actual technology companies but they’re not that good at it. (Not really sure about this one, might be another red herring, NOT like rugby league.)

((via @russelldavies from his post here.))

..They are not that good at it.

This remarks gets to the substance of one thing at least — technology companies are technology companies. They are burdened by an inability to think about people who are no longer concerned with feature lists and scales of things that continually go up and to the right, like the endless chase for more better and bigger or smaller.

I get Russell’s metaphor here, but maybe it goes the other way — technology companies are like mosquitoes nipping at us, causing us to itch, which feels satisfying at first but gradually becomes not such a good idea. The momentary glee of imagining a better little corner of experience that has been fictionally cast in the form of an advertisement about a new glowing thing but that lacks the integrity and honesty that most advertising lacks in that it’s just the vision of some marketing wonk who has no connection to the principles and logics that are embedded in the design and engineering work. Advertising is probably the worst kind of SciFi in this regard. No integrity. No expectations that what is being presented has any relationship to possibility. Maybe SciFi as it was has switched places with advertising: Warren Ellis says SciFi does extrapolation. Advertising-as-SciFi does..what? Dishonest predicting? When it isn’t connected to the principles of the thing, when it’s just that marketing guy who dreams up a selling point, then it is certainly lacking in honesty, whatever the sincerity of that marketing guy’s dream of what he’d like.

((c.f. Timo’s remarks.))
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Once Upon A Place.. Architecture + Fiction Event

Once Upon A Place

Matthew Malpass turned me onto this curious sounding and intriguing event Once Upon A Place (haunted houses & imaginary cities) — the 1st International Conference on Architecture and Fiction, which might count as a “that’s weird” / “plate of shrimp” moment because I was just describing to Jeffrey Paffendorf, who I just met, why I was interested in architecture — and the answer is because, from my still-limited insights, most architects construct quite lovely fictions of things in the sense that these ideas of theirs will likely be materialized only in imagery and stories and renderings, which I think is a powerful skill and ability.


I love the sound of this event and what it might actually contain. And I’m sure Portugal is lovely in the Fall..